Saturday, 7 February 2009

death of romance

He is charismatic and charming, always smiling, generous and friendly. At home he might be evil incarnate, ruling with his own sense of entitlement, generating fear and destroying the people who he so publicly loves.
Of course I'm talking about domestic violence. The government of New South Wales recently declared a new name for the phenomenon, a name which is not gaining a strong hold as yet but hopefully will: "intimate abuse". I like this name "intimate abuse", it is a little more pointed about the fact that it is the people who we trust who perpetrate this crime and by removing the word violence it might help to clarify the fact that physical violence is often the least damaging aspect of the situation.
Intimate abuse is much, much more than a slap, a punch or even a number of kicks. Intimate abuse is name calling, it is financial control, it is sexual abuse, it is isolation. It is when a late paid bill becomes a hanging offence, when even a glance can inspire gut churning fear. It is feeling like a blow-up doll or a slave or worst of all, like just nothing. Intimate abuse is when the victim is not allowed to travel freely, maybe her contact with friends and family is limited and controlled, she might not be allowed to read or use the phone, her emails are checked, phones examined and milages noted. It is when a broken down car is her fault, the children sick because of her poor mothering and lovingly prepared food declared inadequate. Intimate abuse involves pain, control and humiliation.
The victim becomes uncertain of her own judgement and her uncertainty allows the cycle to continue, sucking her deeper into isolation and losing confidence.
I talk about intimate abuse as something perpetrated on women by men and that is the most common pattern but it is much broader than that. Intimate abuse is perpetrated in homosexual relationships, by women on men, by children on parents and parents on children. Intimate abuse exists where ever there is a relationship of trust that is breached by a bid for power. There is not a typical abuser or a typical victim. Any one of us can become involved as situations ebb and flow and as power balances shift. All of us will experience intimate abuse or know someone who does.

The first question often asked by a bystander is "why doesn't she just leave?" and the reasons for a victim staying in an abusive relationship are many and varied but let me assure you that she will have evaluated the possibilities, she continually evaluates her situation and deals with it as best she can. The judgement of another is never helpful, the victim alone understands her position and your job as a friend is to support her decisions. Strengthen her, she doesn't need more doubt. If you have a relationship with the abuser, maintain it. Isolating him will only backfire on her. Treat each individual with the utmost discretion, the normal flow of information between partners is not normal in an abusive relationship and the tiniest snippet of the most innocent conversation can and will be used to extend a reign of terror.
Last of all, if you are the victim, look for ways to take your power back. Look for the ways that you feel confident of. There is plenty of information, support and counselling available for victims of abuse and much of this support is invaluable but there is also a tendency to say that the only escape is to leave, there is a tendency to judge the victim who doesn't take that option but sometimes it is possible to redress the balance. What ever your choice, don't be further abused by well meant but inappropriate advice. Only listen to the people who support you all the way.
YOU have the knowledge, YOU understand and YOU can choose to reclaim YOUR power, YOUR way.


  1. 'When a late paid bill becomes a hanging offence'...

    or running out of sugar.

    'Why doesn't she just leave?'...

    Because she has to know she has given this relationship, this man she loves, her marriage vows, the best chance she ever can.

    Powerful post Kylie- I like the balance of your advice:)

  2. I love you so much. I am so blown away. I almost feel numb. I'm just sitting here. Thinking. Absorbing. I learned so much. I will probably read this a hundred times and still not feel as if I learned enough. I'm not that woman, but know that woman, and for the first time in all my life, I now understand that woman. Thank you. You know me, I mean this with all my heart. Thank you.

    If RC doesn't tell Miss B's story, please do. I can't. I don't understand like you do, I don't write like you do. You can do her story justice. I can't. I'm crying because I can't and also because I'm so sad for women, men, children and animals who have to suffer. You know me. This breaks my heart. It also hurts that I made so many classic mistakes, but despite them, she's safe and although life is a struggle, she's happy and grateful. The kids are safe and her family loves and supports her now that they know the truth.

    She forgave me you know. I was such an idiot and she forgave me. She's so thankful and grateful and every time we talk I'm humbled. The judge and director of CAW have become dear, dear friends to her and she's grateful for all we did. I find it all remarkable.

    I love you Kylie. I do. This post will stay with me all my life.

    With so much love,

    P.S. I still have the email. I haven't completed it, but will try this weekend. I love you. Thank you.

  3. megan,
    thanks to you too!

    have a splendiferous weekend

  4. suze,
    i wrote it because i have watched you begging for a story to be told. i dont know all of that story and even if i did it's not mine to tell but i thought i could put one perspective out there.
    don't sweat over mistakes, it's all part of the process of life. i once read of a woman who said that we should never have regrets because we do the best we can do at the time. we shouldn't use new information to judge old stuff....

    b is a gracious and big hearted woman, i'm not at all surprised she forgave you.

    take care babe

  5. sorry, Kylie--that was me. I decided to erase. This was a very good post. I don't know if my comments get emailed to you, but if you read them, so much the better. I just didn't want to be all hangin' out in the wind so to speak!


  6. Thanks dear. This really is an amazing post. It borders on brilliant.

    And no I wasn't "begging" for a writer. Actually RC contacted Ms. B and asked for an interview a few months ago. I saw the request on her blog and when Ms. B called I asked if she'd do something like that. She said "Yes, absolutely," and told me to please give RC her phone number and address because she didn't have access to a computer. I was so shocked, but she's in a difference space and she wants to help other woman. She has a remarkable story to share and if it helps even one other woman, that's what matters to her. So no baby, I'm not shopping her story around, but if RC doesn't write it I think I'll search for a good writer who will tell her story. I thought of you and Leah because you write so beautifully, but that's obviously not an option, so I hope RC does the interview and writes the article and gets it published.

    Ms. B also wants me to post photos of the kids for all of our dear friends and discuss the Crimes Against Women unit that exists in most police departments across America and that Rob put her in touch with. She is beyond grateful. She's proud to be where she is. She loves us for speaking up and helping her because no one else did. We may have done some things wrong, but we did a whole hell of a lot of things right. And I'll tell you why, because we've worked together on murder cases of abused women and children. And the images NEVER leave. NEVER.

    Honey, you should submit your post to magazines. It's so amazing and moving. I hope you share it with the world because just having it on a blog doesn't seem like enough. What you wrote is beautiful, helpful and informative. I learned so much from you. There are so many others who need to learn. Please think about it.

    I love you dear. XO

  7. The term intimate abuse , in my considered opinion, is the accurate term of the cicumstances described in this piece of apposite, articulate writing. The consequences and additive effects of well meaning advice to the recipient of this type of abuse from family and friends, at its most basic level just increases the emotional load on the "victim." It is especially difficult to cope with gratuitous "advice." Talk is always cheap for the talker! The advice some people dish up just shows those advisors have not experienced the trauma involved.
    Kylie well expressed and written on a very common but hidden social evil.

  8. leah,
    i did read your comment and i was intrigued by it.

  9. suze,
    i in no way meant anything bad by my comments to you, just that in the absence of the post/article you hoped for i would do what i could.
    i never meant anything bad by the post, either, for that matter. i dont want anybody to feel they have got stuff wrong, i just want people to have some idea of how to help if the need comes up.
    your care and compassion is unquestioned round these parts!


  10. and suze,
    if i had all the info and b had final vetoe power i would be happy to write it. i'm just not qualified right now

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. One more thing. It's obvious who abused women are. And not one of you did a single thing to help her. Not one. And then you give me shit. That is just pathetic. I just hang my head in pain. Honestly, I do. There is a lesson and I'm waiting.

  13. suze, suze, suze
    attenuator was referring to some other situations, it was nothing at all to do with you

  14. Ive written a song about domestic violence. The problem with women that are in domestic violence situations is self esteem. The man has beat them down both mentally and physically. They have bee completely disgraced and have no sense of self worth left. It is sad. And irritating all rolled up into one big messy packge.

  15. Kylie, thank you. It's 3am and I woke and rushed here to delete. Thank you. I'm sorry. I don't belong in blogger land any longer so I'm leaving. I love you VERY much.


  16. no need to leave suze
    what would we do without you?

    i never thought i was into censorship but i guess i never tested the theory!

    love ya

  17. Suzanne,
    I have only read what Kylie has written about intimate abuse and then commented on it. I have not read the other posts including yours because I've been doing other things. Any comment therefore I've made here has 0 zero to do with what you offer.Any comments I offer are only and always a response to what Kylie writes in her "editorials."

    I still have not read the lenghy responses!

  18. Attenuator, I thought that what you said was right on target. A good note to add to Kylie's editorial. I think it's very important to keep in mind--thanks for saying it.

  19. I grew up in an abusive home. My mother invited/endured/covered for abuse -- she has incredibly low self-esteem (but was charming and beautiful, "always smiling, generous and friendly" to the outside world, as you so aptly write). Then she shared.

    My sister and I suffered in silence as those around turned a blind eye. "Why?" we wondered, "Why didn't anyone care about us." The abuse she received became abuse we received as she passed it on. She claimed to love us . . . yet . . .

    Abuse has MANY forms -- hitting is simply one choice.

    The woman that raised me is terribly sick with mental illness and I realize I covered for her for YEARS because I loved her despite it all. I accepted the abuse and called it love. I ignored the pain and called it forgiveness -- it's what I'd been taught . . . all I had ever known.

    One day it all stopped. Because I finally said "Enough!" I was no child at the time-- but I still felt like one.

    I thought we had "worked through" and "risen above" it all. BUT . . . one day I realized she had set her sights on the new generation -- my children -- and I finally found the courage to walk away.

    It still hurts. I still hear her voice screeching in my head . . . or worse, the silence she "punished me" with. To be ignored/invisible is painful . . . oh so painful.

    I no longer wonder why nobody cared . . . many did but her lies shut the door and shut us in. She's the one who said nobody cared . . . and we believed her.

    My sister and I remain INCREDIBLY close. I married a wonderful man. I found my voice and made my choice and my children live in freedom and joy and love -- SO DO I.

    I read a grand reminder in your words, sweet Kylie. As a victim of abuse, I thank you for remembering to remember. There is no one-size-fits-all remedy for abuse.

    Today you have reminded me to remember what I long to forget. Forgetting is no solution . . . finding a voice and a choice was my deliverance. Having the courage to set a new course, find a new life set me free. Oh but how long and how hard I looked before I found the courage and the support.

    Thank you for listening. . . thank you for hearing.


  20. Kylie, I love you so very, very much. I read your email and responded. You know how much I love you. And Dad, I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. I thought you were talking to me because I'm so self absorbed. I hoped you hadn't read it, but now I know you did. I apologize for any stress or pain I caused. I'm going to work on my knee jerk reaction to just about everything. I'm sorry. I know you understand.

    As you all know, I've never been an abused woman or child, but for some reason I was born to protect both and animals. I don't know why. There are times it feels like a burden, but I take a deep breath and move forward. What I said here was wrong, rude and thoughtless. I was so upset I didn't think. I'm so sorry. You all know how impatient I've become and how quick I am to respond. It's a lesson in what NOT to do. It's important to pause, walk away if necessary and think about the words you say or write because you can never take them back. Never.

    And Debbie, thank you. You made me realize something very, very important. I don't have to write anyone's story. I don't have to search for anyone to write someone's story. You write your own story. My favorite book in the whole world is "We didn't have much, but we sure had plenty." It a compilation of women's stories (out of print now, but amazing to read if you can get your hands on it). With a bit of editing, it's done. You write your story better than any author. I honestly believe that women need to hear your stories. They need to hear Ms. B. They need to hear you. I've never been abused, but your words inspire me, so I can only imagine how they'd inspire abused women. And I think the book should be really, really cheap so that woman on a tight budged can buy it!!! Yes, I'm practical too!!! Perhaps magazine form.

    Debbie, I love you and I'm so happy you're the woman and parent you are. I love your blog. I love the way you treat your kids and hubby. The way you cook, garden, take photos of a messy kitchen and love your animals. You inspire me and now I know why. You are such a remarkable woman. Oh, and because your daughter makes really great pancakes!!!

    Thank you all for enduring me. I know it's difficult at time, but please remember I care so much I often become insane!

    I want you all to know that Kylie and her father are two of the most kind and forgiving people I've ever known. They're generous and they humble me, so to say what I said on this blog is just so unforgivable. And yet, Kylie sent a beautiful email and Dad wrote to explain. They represent all the good in life.

    With much love,
    Suze XO

  21. Suze ~~ Thank you for your kind words. I love you, too -- you wild woman with a heart that just can't quit caring. Keep loving, keep caring, keep blogging. : D

    Kylie . . . you are precious to care and share. XO

  22. Debbie,

    Thank you. I just talked to Gig and she basically said the same thing. She told me passion isn't bad and that all of you understand me. But I wish I could do better. I really believe I can do better. I don't want to cause stress to another person for as long as I live. That is my goal.

    Debbie, I love you. I know you know that. Thank you. Your words matter. Oh, and also, they made me laugh!!! "Wild womann." Now that's just funny!!!

    XO to all! Suze ;)

  23. I mean womann. God, I can't even mispell my own mispelling! That's just stupid funny!!!

  24. Laura-Peach...and?!!! Honey, this ain't fairy land!!! Baby, you just can't arrive!!! Oh, crap this place is too complicated! No Laura, I'm not making fun of you, I'm just having fun with you. Trust me, we have fun here. Welcome. Honestly.

  25. Suze,

    I'm laughing 'til I am feeling the hiccups! Are you warning my readers beware of this spot? : D

    I know why I come to this gathering place . . . it's fun! It's real. It's REALLY fun!!!


    Okay Kylie, you can have your blog back. ; )


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